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Paper Monitor

11:39 UK time, Friday, 8 May 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Nine pages. Nine broadsheet pages. That's a lot to devote to just one story, but what a story! An exclusive, 100% guaranteed to be followed up by every other media outlet in the land. It's time to be lavish with the column inches.

And that's just what the Daily Telegraph has done, having taken possession of the receipts submitted by MPs for their cleaners and gardeners, new tellies and tin openers.

Oh, the fun to be had. There are rag-outs of handwritten notes to the Fees Office:

  • Jack Straw's scrawled apology, "accountancy does not appear to be my strongest suit"
  • Andy Burnham's plea for a year-old claim to be approved, "otherwise I might be in line for a divorce!!"

burnhamsatwreathlaying.jpgThere are teasing photos galore:

  • Teeny tiny Hazel Blears astride her custom-built motorbike
  • And for house porn addicts, one of the achingly cool hotel in which she stayed while between second homes (guidebooks say "heaven will be a let-down after this", the paper notes)
  • Not only THAT full-length pic of Caroline Flint, but THIS full-length photo of Andy Burnham's wife (click here for more on this outfit). No shortage of bare thigh here.

And oh, the A-Z of bizarre claims for minor items:

  • C is for chocolate Santa, 59p, charged by a Welsh MP
  • E is for elephant lamps, two for £134.30, bought by a well-known Tory frontbencher
  • E is for elephant lamps, two for £134.30, bought by a well-known Tory frontbencher
  • I is for Ikea carrier bag, 5p, claimed by a Scottish MP
  • J is for jellied eels, £1.31, claimed by an Essex-based MP
  • L is for lavatory seat: one particularly heavyweight Labour MP bought two in the space of a year
  • P is for pizza wheel, £3, bought from a Bodum shop in Oxfordshire by a Tory backbencher
  • T is for Tampax, two packs at £1.11 each, claimed by a Conservative MP
  • V is for Vileda supermop, £4.99, claimed by a moustache-wearing Labour MP

It's gripping stuff and well done to the Telegraph for securing a story that every other paper would have sold their granny for. But a few observations...

1. They call it an "investigation". But didn't they just pay the highest price to whoever was selling it?

2. In the leader, it says "this is not, explicitly, a party political matter". Yet the focus, for today at least, is on the governing party.

3. It's widely assumed the Telegraph paid for this information - it won't say yes or no. What sort of receipt did it get from whoever sold it, and if there isn't one - as might be assumed, as whoever sold this wants to stay a secret source - then how do you get that past the Telegraph accounts department?

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